According to data from Lebanese customs, imports from Lebanon increased by 39.7% to reach USD 19.1 billion in 2022, approaching, in value, pre-crisis levels (USD 20 billion in 2018).
While hydrocarbons continue to represent a significant share of the country’s imports (USD 5.6 billion, up +44% in value, but down -17% in volume), non-hydrocarbon imports also contributed to the increase (+38%).
They reached 85% of their 2018 level.
In parallel, Lebanese exports decreased by -10.1% in 2022, from USD 3.9 billion to USD 3.5 billion. This decline is due to several sectors, in particular manufactured items (furniture and bedding), metals and precious stones, and fruits and vegetables, in the context of the embargo imposed by Saudi Arabia since 2021.
As a result, Lebanon’s trade deficit increased by 59% between 2021 and 2022, from USD 9.8 billion to USD 15.6 billion, or 71% of GDP in 2022, an abnormally high ratio.
The strong increase in imports could be explained by:
1) a recovery in domestic consumption, fueled by remittances from abroad;
2) global inflation on goods and raw materials (especially hydrocarbons);
3) the effects of anticipation by importers (gradual increase in the exchange rate applied to customs taxes);
4) the increase in flows to Syria (Lebanese exports to Syria quadrupled in 2022 according to Lebanese customs figures).
Source Embassy of France in Lebanon